Amah Mutsun Research

Photo by Chuck Striplen

Photo by Chuck Striplen

Check out the fascinating story of the research that one of our members, the Amah Mutsun Land Trust, has done that shows that the Amah Mutsun have been doing prescribed burns in the region for at least the last 1000 years.


"Ten years ago, a group of researchers led by UC Berkeley Professor Kent Lightfoot came to the Amah Mutsun Tribal Council with a novel kind of proposal. They wanted to work with the Tribe and State Parks to begin a scientific project to learn more about the long term history of relationships between Native people and the natural world at Quiroste Valley, located near Año Nuevo Point in San Mateo County. A primary goal of the project was to investigate whether Native people used prescribed burning as a stewardship method to maintain open and productive landscapes long before the arrival of Spanish colonists.
The research project would bring together many different types of academic and scientific methods in a framework we call “integrative historical ecology.” Under this approach, researchers recognize that no single method or discipline can provide a complete picture of complex human-environment relationships. So we try to understand ways of life in the past using a diversity of perspectives that can include documentary histories, oral traditions, archaeology (the study of physical materials created and used by people in the past), ecology (how animal and plant communities function and interact), and paleo-ecology (how biotic communities were structured and functioned in the past)."